Progress Singapore Party’s Lee Hsien Yang on Friday (11 September) branded the Law Society’s response to allegations made against the current Attorney-General Lucien Wong as “troubling”.
The Law Society told The Straits Times on Wednesday that a complaint made against a particular male lawyer at the time for alleged wrongful removal of legal files “was dismissed as being unmeritorious”.
The Society’s remarks were made following the circulation of a controversial message within the legal fraternity, which featured a newspaper cutting from 1986 with the heading “Report made against lawyer for alleged removal of legal files”.
In his Facebook post today, Mr Lee, who is the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, also highlighted that the article “also mentions Lee Kuan Yew’s criticism of the legal fraternity for being lax in disciplining its members and warning about the need to uphold the profession’s integrity”.
The article by ST, published on the newspaper’s front page on 25 Oct that year, stated that a senior partner at a leading law firm was reported to the police for alleged wrongful removal of company files.
Lim Soo Gee, Superintendent of the Central Police Station at the time, confirmed that a lawyer from the firm had lodged the report.
The senior partner mentioned in the article was caught with a male lawyer — discovered to be Mr Wong — by her colleagues in a parking lot near their law firm at Battery Road around 10pm on 22 Oct the same year.
ST sources said that the files contained legal precedents — namely previous cases where the court’s decisions establish principles or rules for similar cases in the future.
The male lawyer had apparently resigned from his previous firm after a heated exchange with a partner. The former was described as a top law student during his time at the National University of Singapore.
The report noted that both lawyers had been planning to join another “equally established” law firm just a few months down the line.
TOC’s checks with seasoned lawyers revealed that the law firm mentioned in the 1986 news report is Shook Lin & Bok.
TOC also understands that the senior partner mentioned in the ST article in 1986 is Christina Ong who was with the law firm at the time.
The male lawyer is the present-day Attorney-General Lucien Wong, who was with Drew & Napier.
Mr Wong is also formerly Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s personal lawyer.
He topped his university cohort in 1978, which fits the description of the male lawyer in the ST report.
The news report also mentioned sources saying that the woman ‘broke down’ after she was discovered and that more files were found in the trunk of the man’s car.
TOC understands that the colleagues who caught the female partner red-handed in the car park was Phillip Pillai—who was a High Court judge—as well as Wong Meng Meng and Tan Jin Hwee, who happened to be on their way back to the office after having dinner.
While the 1986 ST article reported the police superintendent as saying that investigations were ongoing, TOC understands that the case was stood down after the Attorney-General’s Chambers decided not to pursue the matter.
A complaint was also made to the Law Society, but it was never resolved publicly.
Ms Ong and Mr Wong both went on to join Allen & Gledhill in 1987 as partners of the law firm.
Mr Wong’s appointment as A-G on 16 January 2017 was mired by controversy, particularly regarding his age and his status as PM Lee’s former personal lawyer.
While Mr Wong’s predecessor V K Rajah SC — who was appointed A-G on 25 Jun 2014 — ended his service in the position on 14 Jan 2017 upon reaching the retirement age of 60 years, Mr Wong was 63 years old at the time of his appointment for the first term of his tenure.
Mr Wong was reappointed as A-G at the age of 67 years old in 2020. He will be 70 at the end of his second term as the Attorney-General.
As PM Lee’s then-personal lawyer prior to his appointment as A-G, Mr Wong took part in handling the legal dispute surrounding the 38 Oxley Road property — the late Lee Kuan Yew’s family home.
While the Law Society on Wednesday emphasised that it was found that the complaint did not warrant further action, it does not appear to dispute what was reported by ST in the 1986 article.